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Crab Apples: My Cry for Community Based Health Care

I sobbed for Ashely Smith this evening. I sat up straight in bed, mortified as I watched the video documenting her suicide taken by Corrections Canada Officers who stood outside her cell door and watched as she choked to death from self bondage. For thirty minutes they did not intervene, as her face, still youthful, silently turned purple.

“Are you dead yet?” yelled at corrections officer as she lay on the floor. Ashley Smith, who died at 19, had been sent to to a New Brunswick juvenile facility at the age of 15. Her crime? Throwing crab apples at a postal service worker. Her one month sentence turned in to three year sentence that eventually led her to the Nova Institution for Women, the federal penitentiary where she eventually died after multiple suicide attempts and long term segregation interrupted only by abuse from prison guards. 

I wanted to know more about Ashley. As I sifted through the web in search of details of her life, I could hear the sound of her voice as she addressed the correctional officers who stood on top of her, “leave me alone”, she said. They had used pepper spray to and administered injected tranquillizers for the purpose of “constraining” her, which is illegal Canada. I can't help but wonder why this type of illegal behaviour has gone un-flagged, yet crab apple throwing had resulted in the loss of a young life and  dark cloud of embarrassment looming over our justice that time alone will not erase. 

Ashley was born in 1988, and adopted five days after her birth. Although her early years were documented as being generally normal when compared other  peers, it is said that behavioural issues began to surface as she entered adolescence. These were things such as “disruptive” behaviour in class and excessive talking, both of which were used to describe me too, when I was her age. At fifteen, when she threw crab apples at the postal worker, I was smoking pot and spending days on psychedelics as we stripped malls of their merchandise, evading the security systems. Why was I not subject to the same fate? The only answer that I have is that our society treats worst its member who have mental illnesses, and it just so happened that genetics were on my side. 

Reports indicate that at the New Brunswick Youth Centre, Ashley had pushed the staff “to their limits”. There are several hundreds of recorded incidents ranging from refusing to hand over a hair brush, to self harm and suicide. It seems to me, and it would to any carefully trained service provider, that it was Ashley who had been truly pushed to her limits, not the staff. There is a need today for all provincial governments who are providing services to young people in contact with the youth criminal justice system to broaden their scope of responsibilities and to provide tailored education systems to the needs of youth suffering from mental illness. Most importantly, there needs to be consensus on the notion that youths suffering from mental illness or behavioural disorders should not be sent to correctional facilities and certainly not put into prolonged solitary confinement which is known to have harmful psychological consequences such as psychosis. There is a need for more trained professionals to service youth who need continuing clinical services and a review of existing facilities and services that are provided to youth. 

This is a cry for hospital, not jails. A cry for handed over sight, thorough testing, frequent training and retraining on life saving methods such as CPR. As corrections officers entered  Ashley's confinement cell after she had self asphyxiated, one of them is heard saying “fuck, I haven't trained in CPR in 11 years”.   They call for the nurse, who is not present at the scene, but it is too late. Ashley's cries may not have been heard in time by those who could have saved her, but there is still much saving do be done. As John Macfarlane writes, “The pain is hers, but the shame is ours”.   

Ashley SmithMy Life

My life I no longer love 

I’d rather be set free above 

Get it over with while the time is right 

Late some rainy night 

Turn black as the sky and as cold as the sea 

Say goodbye to Ashley 

Miss me but don’t be sad

 I’m not sad I’m happy and glad 

I’m free, where I want to be 

No more caged up Ashley

Wishing I were free 

Free like a bird.

 

Ashley Smith, October 1, 2006 New Brunswick Youth Centre

OMG Free Arts Workshops!

Hey Everyone!

I hope you've all been having a great summer! Looking for fun activities to do that tie into the rave scene? Look no more! TRIP! has been holding community arts and education workshops at the Queen West community Health Centre, and there are still more to go!

By receiving a Toronto Public Health Youth Grant we have been able to take a look into the various "pillars of rave" be it Mcing, DJing, Producing, Dancing, and Fashion-- we've opened up the health centre for all types of rave related activities!

If you are a youth ages 29 and under and love the scene, or even just love doing rave related activities, please stop by!

Up and coming workshops include:

Boh Selecta, and all that! an MCing workshop. Saturday July 15th from 2pm - 4pm!

Rave tutus and fluffs 2.0, a creative fashion workshop. Wednesday July 20th from 6pm - 9pm!

Rave Promotion 101, where you can learn all the basics on throwing a top notch event. Saturday July 23rd from 2pm - 4pm!

Rave Makeup 101, a workshop where you can learn how to do awesome makeup! Wednesday July 27th from 6pm - 9pm!

Open Dance studio 2.0, where you can come out to share and show off your moves! Saturday July 30th from 2pm - 5pm!

All workshops are held at Queen West Community Health Centre, located at 168 Bathurst street! (Right at Queen and Bathurst!)

Past workshops include, baking, kandi making, button making and dance! If you would like to know more info on our community workshops email us at info@tripproject.ca !

Hope to see you at our up and coming events :)


These are the Tryptamines in your Neighbourhood!

Tryptamines vs. Phenethylamines
Although some hallucinogenic substances don’t fall into either category, a vast majority of known hallucinogens are either tryptamines or phenethylamines. Tryptamines and Phenethylamines are classes of chemicals encompassing many psychoactive substances that have been used both for medicine and spiritual awakening for thousands of years.

Amphetamines such as MDMA, methamphetamine, and popular study drugs Adderall (dl-amphetamine) and Dexedrine (dextroamphetamine) alongside of research chemicals such as 2-CB and 2-CE are all categorized as phenethylamines. Most are known to be empathogenic and many of them have stimulant properties. Most phenethylamines have psychedelic properties and some (such as amphetamines or methamphetamine) are stimulants.

LSD, Moxy, Foxy and DMT are examples of popular tryptamines that are psychoactive. Most psychoactive tryptamines are hallucinogens and are known to provide intense psychedelic trips. It is important to mentally and emotionally prepare yourself for your trip. If taken carelessly, intense psychedelics may cause bad trips. If you are prone to difficult experiences, think carefully before trying new psychedelic drugs!

Meet Moxy and Foxy
 Moxy (5-MeO-MiPT) and Foxy (5-MeO-DiPT) are hallucinogenic tryptamines that were discovered in 1980 by Dr. Alexander Shulgin. They have similar effects and duration; the drugs often are compared as sister chemicals they are not the same drug, however.
Foxy and Moxy have a wide range of effects: at small doses they leave tactile sensitivity, but they can bring audio distortions, visual texture enhancements and other perception changes.
Individuals currently going through emotional or psychological upheaval should be careful about using psychedelics such as Moxy or Foxy, as they can trigger even more difficulty. Individuals with a family history of schizophrenia or early onset mental illness should be extremely careful because psychedelics have been known to trigger latent psychological and mental problems. Individuals with seizure or convulsive disorders or heart problems may be at higher risk for health problems when taking psychedelics.

Dosage & Duration
The dosage of these tryptamines are very minute, and it is very important to have a milligram-precise scale (0.00x) due to a small margin for error.
Depending on how much and how recently the user has orally consumed, Foxy and Moxy take around 10-20 minutes to kick in. Moxy may be taken orally or vaporized in a pipe. When freebased the effect usually comes on within seconds. Both drugs last approximately 4-6 hours.
If you are taking an MAOI or thinking about combining multiple tryptamines, it is important to consider that they can massively potentiate your trip.

5-MeO-MiPT
Threshold dose (oral): 4mg
Threshold dose (smoked): 12mg

5-MeO-DiPT
Threshold dose (oral): 6mg

Potency Problems
The intensity if your trip will increase exponentially when you add more to your dose. When you add 2mg to the 4mg (oral) or 6mg to the 12mg (smoked) threshold dose, it doubles the intensity of the experience. For example, 8mg is 4 times the potency of an orally ingested 4mg threshold dose for Moxy.

Legality
Currently, both 5-MeO-MiPT and 5-MeO-DiPT are not listed as controlled substances in Canada.
 
Resources
Erowid: Moxy
Erowid: Foxy

Methylenedioxypyrovalerone

MDPV

Super coke. When you say out loud, it sounds kind of epic. It is as though they chose the name to make you think that this relatively new white powder was going to get you even higher than the best cocaine you'd ever laid your hands on. So question is, is it true? Here are some things that you should know if you or someone you know is planning on/or has tried it.

Super coke (MDPV) has been marketed for the past few months as “bath salts” and it could easily be purchased online or in head shops. It has also been marketed online in several forms, most popularly as Ivory Wave. Just recently in New York a number of stores were raided by the FBI after having sold these “bath salts” (which were actually super coke) to under covers who were working under the Bath Salt Task Force. Like many research chemicals, the legality of these substances lay in murky areas when they first appear on the market but one should be reminded that as these gain popularity, they soon become classified and thus illegal. So even if you are able to purchase them from storefronts or online, it does not make it safe to do so and you could find yourself in some serious trouble. Selling these substances can also be considered illegal despite the fact that their classification is unclear. Authorities may still decide to prosecute you if the substance resembles an illegal one and is possessed with the intent to traffic.

 

I’ve tried super coke only once, with regrets about not having educated myself about it at first. A friend was passing around a plate at a party and when people asked him what drug he was sharing he promptly replied, “It's like coke, but better than any other coke you’ve done!” That pitch line was all we needed. Or so we thought…

 

To get high on super coke, you need only a fraction (about a tenth) of what the average dosage of cocaine would be. Keep in mind however that this varies by person and by batch so it is important to know not only your body and your tolerance but also your source. The high came on rapidly and was of an intensity comparable to speed with a euphoria similar to that of cocaine. The main difference from a user point of view was largely duration. The high lasted about 8 hours without re-dosing and the comedown lasted another 6 hours. This included irregular and elevated heartbeat and extreme anxiety. The anxiety, it can be argued, is the most intolerable aspect and has been reported by a number of users. It is believed that the anxiety lasts longer than is usually experienced from cocaine.

 

What should be kept in mind when trying this substance is that it is a commitment and a very large one. Unlike cocaine, it has a very long duration both in its high and its comedown. Particularly if you have a history of anxiety disorders, feelings of anxiety may last for a long time. Talking to friends about your feelings while this is happening may help to calm them. Extended use of super coke has reportedly been associated with psychosis and has resulted in visits to the emergency room.

 

Like what should be done with all emerging substances, I should have looked up the details of super coke before I tried it. It is important to remember that despite its very similar name to cocaine, the two substances differ largely in duration. Be safe, and be smart! For more information on super coke check out Wikipedia  or Erowid Trip Reports.

MDMA Alert (Toronto, June 2011)

2-CT-7

The TRIP! Project is reporting recently that there have been a lot of “research chemicals” sold as, or used to cut, MDMA. “Toronto has literally been flooded with them, and a lot of the youth order them online in bulk to get cheap prices.” 

What are Research Chemicals? (from erowid.org) 

 “When used to describe recreationally used psychoactive drugs, the term "research chemicals" generally refers to substances that haven't yet been thoroughly studied. The term "research chemical" partially came from the fact that some substances on the recreational markets were drugs that had been discovered in labs and only examined in test-tube (in vitro) or low-level animal studies. Some are very new, while others may have been around for years but haven't had adequate enough medical investigation to quantify health risks, have not been consumed by many people over a long period, or had much data accumulated about their use. Little is known about them, and a good deal of what is known is based only on first-hand psychonautical reports. Scant to no research has been completed on the toxicology or human pharmacology of these drugs. Few, if any, formal human or animal studies have been done. Because of this, some have suggested that they would more appropriately be called "unresearched chemicals". Another term for them is "experimental chemicals", and this may better communicate the unknown risks associated with ingesting these drugs. Unlike better-known drugs such as ecstasy (MDMA), which has been taken by millions of people over the last 30+ years, or marijuana which has been used by billions of people over millennia, in some cases the most novel of research chemicals may only have been used by several dozen people for a few months. The risks involved with research chemicals are greater than with many other drugs, since they're unknowns.” 

Why is MDMA being cut? 

New substances are being developed all the time – some of these are easier to make than MDMA; some are easy to acquire through the internet; and some are not illegal, though can be quite harmful. Increased global restrictions on the pre-cursor chemicals used in the synthesis of MDMA are making production more difficult and, therefore, people are turning to new substances as substitutes for MDMA, or mixing them with poor quality MDMA to achieve more potent results. 

What might currently be in MDMA? 

It is unclear exactly what chemicals are being sold as, or added to, MDMA but there are a number of possibilities. Suggestions, based on observed reactions and anecdotal reports, include chemicals from classes of drugs known as tryptamines , phenethylamines, and piperazines, including substances such as 2C-B, 2C-I, 2C-T-7, 5-MeO-DIPT (“foxy”), 5-MeO-MIPT (“moxy”), and BZP. 

Why is this concerning? 

Most of these new substances share some similar physiological effects to MDMA (most of them are stimulants) but some have additional psychoactive properties that can be more psychedelic in nature, and their combination with MDMA can lead to an intense trip that you may not have expected. Most of these compounds also have a similar appearance to MDMA, generally being sold as a fine white powder. 

A particular danger is that many of the newer chemicals are very “dose-sensitive”, requiring much smaller doses than MDMA and with drastically-changing intensity with higher doses. A standard MDMA dose is typically around 100mg, but some research chemicals dose at 10mg, and some are so potent (<5mg) that even touching or smelling the drug can produce unintentional contact highs. These newer drugs are also much more potent when snorted – it is advised against snorting them due to unpredictable effects. 

How can you keep safer? 

- Chemical testing kits are available for purchase through Dance Safe in the United States (http://www.dancesafe.org/products/testing-kits). These kits are able to test a substance by dropping a clear liquid on a small amount of the drug and watching the colour change. The results may indicate the presence, or lack of, certain chemicals. These kits do not measure quantity or dose and do not give a complete chemical picture though. Also, they are sometimes stopped at the border and may be hard to acquire.  

- Ask around. Know your source. Avoid purchasing drugs through the internet and only obtain drugs from people you have relied on in the past. Having said that, even dealers may not know exactly what they are selling. Check with other people that have already tried a supply and see how they reacted. Start with a smaller amount and wait to see how you are doing – be patient... some of these newer chemicals may take longer to kick in than MDMA. 

- Avoid snorting MDMA powder that you haven’t tried out before. Ingesting (swallowing) a drug is usually the least harmful way to consume a drug. 

 - Have a “sober sitter”. Try and have at least one person in the group stay sober. If people start tripping, the sober person can help out.  

- Listen to your friends... if they complain they are not feeling well, help them out. Better to ruin one night and be secure than run into trouble – there will always be another night to party if you stay safe. 

- If people panic or are tripping too hard, remove them from environments where there are lots of people, loud music or flashing lights – calm them down and reassure them. 

- NEVER give more/other drugs to counter the effects. You might be tempted to give them a bump or line of a stimulant (such as crystal or coke) to stop them passing out, or maybe a depressant (such as alcohol or G) to calm them down, but this will only complicate what is happening in the person’s body. Time is needed for the body to break down the drugs and the body does not need more substances in it. 

- If someone is throwing up, don’t give them things to drink. Their body is trying to get stuff out and even water will probably cause them to keep throwing up. 

- If someone passes out, make sure they do not lie on their back – they could throw up and choke on their vomit. Lie them on their side, facing downwards, and make sure their mouth and airway is clear (e.g., remove chewing gum). For more on overdoses click here

- Monitor the person’s heart rate, body temperature and breathing. If people get too hot, if their heart rate beats too fast, or if they pass out, or their breathing is too slow, get them medical help. Do not be afraid to call 911. When the paramedics arrive tell them what is going on. 

Summer events and Pride weekend are not far away and that means some people may be partying harder than usual. You can still have fun and keep yourself and others safer by doing a little homework. Here is some further reading… 

Toronto Vibe (AIDS Committee of Toronto) 

www.torontovibe.com 

All about every drug 

http://www.erowid.org/psychoactives/

2 C-B (drug info from erowid) 

http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/2cb/2cb.shtml

5-MeO-DIPT “Foxy” (drug info from erowid) 

http://www.erowid.org/chemicals/5meo_dipt/5meo_dipt.shtml 

 

Here is one person’s report from the May long-weekend: 

“I had a terrible experience this past weekend – I have been taking club drugs for over 12 years and never had an experience like this. I was at a club-type event when I took what was thought to be a capsule of MDMA (it did not come from my usual source). I knew something was not right about 30 minutes after dosing... I became quite anxious and started to get paranoid. Then, I suddenly felt like I dissociated from my body, as if I had taken ketamine but without the anaesthetic effects. I sat down to try and ride it out thinking perhaps it was just coming on very hard. Though my friend’s said I looked OK I was feeling very messy. The music became quite intense and the lights extremely colourful and the music, lights and people were all blending together. I told my friends I had to leave and fortunately they helped me out of the venue. After that things became very blurry.

My friends tried to walk me to the street to get a cab but I was in and out of consciousness and my body kept collapsing. One friend had to slap me to keep me awake. I remember being able to tell them that physically I thought I was OK but that I was “tripping” really hard; I have never done acid but that’s what I equated it to. We were able to get into a cab but I was starting to hallucinate - I was having images and sounds of people that were not there. I have a distinct vision of sitting in a car surrounded by a “security team” that were escorting us home but it was only my two friends and the cab driver. I then felt like all my vital signs were going and have images of everyone panicking around me and being taken to the emergency department, though all the cab did was drive to my friend’s place. I briefly came-to as we stepped out of the cab and walked into my friend’s apartment but then my memory goes again. At this point they put me on the couch and I threw up – though I have no memory of this. Apparently I was talking gibberish, making all sorts of weird sounds and rolling around on the floor. In my mind, bits and pieces of my life were being pieced together - I believed I was on an “acid like trip” and coming in and out of the “real world” while going in and out of consciousness.

I would occasionally come to, and hear my friends reassuring me it would be OK, but would then pass out and have crazy visuals and terrible thoughts. I kept throwing up even though nothing was left. I was sweating profusely too. (The next day one friend told me he was giving me 15 more minutes to come around, else he was going to get me to hospital.) I slowly started to come to; in my mind my friends had been babysitting me for at least 8 hours –but when I was coherent enough to talk I learned that the entire experience had only been a couple of hours. I was still quite confused and would drift in and out of the “trip”. I still saw visual trailers and colourful lights when my eyes were both closed and opened. My friends finally moved me from the living room to the bedroom where for the next hour I was much more conscious but was still nauseous and sweating. After another hour or two I was able to go to the bathroom and freshen up, though I still had visual disturbances, felt very mentally, if not physically, drained and could not stop salivating. I could not really sleep even though I was exhausted. A couple of hours later I had very bad diarrhoea. I eventually fell asleep for a few hours. When I woke up I was actually feeling OK and probably had less of a hangover than I sometimes get from MDMA.” 

TRIP! provides safer sex and drug information and supplies to party people in Toronto's electronic music communities. We neither condone nor condemn the use of any drug, and provide factual information to help partiers make informed decisions that directly affect their long-term health. TRIP! (a project of Central Toronto Community Health Centres), is a grassroots initiative that sprouted in the summer of 1995 and has since nurtured healthy and wise choices among those in our communities. 

We're hiring!

TRIP! Project 

 

TRIP! Project - 1 Outreach Worker Position 

12 Month Contract (July 2011 to June 30, 2012) 

Average 24 hrs/month; $11.00 / hr 

 

Position Description 

The TRIP! Project, a project of Central Toronto Community Health Centres (CTCHC), provides safer sex and safer drug use education, information, supplies and referrals, to Toronto’s diverse dance music communities. Working closely with the TRIP! Project Coordinator, this position will be supported to provide peer-based harm reduction education online through social media and onsite at dance music events (parties), and will support project volunteers to provide accurate information on harm reduction, HIV prevention and safer drug use to the dance community, local organizations and high schools. This position will work within a broader Harm Reduction team, and be responsible to the Project Coordinator. 

Specific Responsibilities 

Provide an average of 1-2 shifts per month of outreach services at dance music events in Toronto each month 

Provide appropriately tailored and accurate information on harm reduction, HIV prevention and safer drug use to the dance music community through onsite outreach and social media outreach, including Facebook, Purerave, Twitter and blogging 

Attend and provide support for monthly outreach meetings, and meetings with the TRIP! Project Coordinator 

Work collaboratively with the TRIP! Project Coordinator and other TRIP! Outreach Workers, and participate in the Harm Reduction team and the broader CTCHC as required 

Provide programming support for TRIP! trainings and workshops, including helping with community kitchen 

 

Qualifications 

An active participant of Toronto’s dance music community; strong knowledge of and comfort with party culture/raving, partygoers/ravers, and Toronto’s dance music communities 

Strong knowledge of HIV, drug use, and related issues, as well as risk and harm reduction strategies 

Excellent communication and interpersonal skills 

Knowledge and experience using social media 

Excellent ability to take initiative and work independently, while also working closely with the TRIP! Project Coordinator and other TRIP! Outreach Workers 

Demonstrated ability to support peer volunteers in providing health promotional outreach services 

Positive attitude towards a diverse community 

Ability to work long night shifts on weekends 

Ability to express and invest creativity and positive energy into an incredible youth project 

 

We are particularly seeking applications from qualified members of the groups traditionally under-represented in the workplace and the dance music community. 

Please email cover letter and resume by Monday June 14th by noon to: 

SUBJECT HEADING: Hiring Committee – Job #CTCHC 100, 

EMAIL ADDRESS: hiring@ctchc.com 

No phone calls please. We regret that only those we wish to interview will be contacted. 

Canadian Groups Welcome International Report Condemning Failed “War on Drugs”

Click here for pdf     En français

Statement/Énoncé

 

For Immediate Release
Également disponible en français

 

CANADIAN GROUPS WELCOME INTERNATIONAL REPORT CONDEMNING FAILED "WAR ON DRUGS"

Evidence and human rights - not swelling prisons - are critical to sound drug policy, both here and abroad

June 2, 2011 - We, the undersigned organizations, welcome today's release of a landmark report by the Global Commission on Drug Policy. It not only denounces the "war on drugs" as a failure but also puts forth a series of major recommendations for political leaders worldwide to adopt evidence- and rights-based approaches to drug policy.

The Commission represents the most renowned group of international political leaders ever to speak in a unified voice against the so-called "war on drugs." The authors recognize that it is ultimately a war on people, and especially on people with addictions. The Commission's report makes the case for alternatives to imprisonment for people who use and sell drugs and for a public health approach to drug use and addiction. As well, the Commission's report also calls for a more profound "paradigm shift".

Specifically, the report calls on governments to:

  • end the criminalization and stigmatization of people who use drugs but who do no harm to others;
  • experiment with various models of the legal regulation of currently-prohibited drugs, especially cannabis; and
  • ensure the availability of a variety of treatment methods and harm reduction measures that have proven successful in many European countries and also in Canada.

The Commission's call reflects the arguments that we have made for many years for a humane and rational public policy regarding drugs in Canada. Indeed, the timing of the release of the Commission's report could not be more opportune for our country. Currently, the Supreme Court of Canada is deliberating the fate of Insite, the supervised injection site in Vancouver. Various published evaluations provide overwhelming and incontrovertible scientific evidence that Insite is both cost-effective and humane in meeting its objectives of preventing death and disease among some of those people who are most vulnerable. Such critical health services should be expanded, not threatened with closure.

Yet, in the name of getting "tough on crime," an omnibus crime bill package - which includes mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offences - is also likely to be presented in Parliament this month. Its passage will result in a large increase in the number of people in prison, many of them for drug-related offences. Yet the billions of dollars of taxpayers' money to be spent on more prosecutions and punishment will do nothing to reduce drug use or drug-related crime.  Instead, it will contribute to unnecessary suffering for individuals, families and communities. This has been well illustrated in other countries with such laws, such as the United States, and will further damage public health by contributing to the spread of blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, including in prisons. These are exactly the sort of measures that have been internationally denounced with the release today of the Commission's report.

Canada would do well to heed the conclusions and recommendations of the esteemed members of the Global Commission on Drug Policy and see how policies based on evidence, human rights and public health are key to a sensible and successful approach to drug use in Canada.

Signatories:

AIDS Network Kootenay Outreach and Support Society (ANKORS)

B.C. Civil Liberties Association

Beyond Prohibition Foundation

British Columbia Association of People on Methadone

British Columbia/Yukon Association of Drug War Survivors

Canadian Aboriginal AIDS Network

Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange

Canadian Drug Policy Coalition

Canadian Foundation for Drug Policy

Canadian Harm Reduction Network

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Canadian Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Canadian Treatment Action Council

Centre for Addictions Research of BC

COUNTERfit Harm Reduction Program, South Riverdale Community Health Centre

Harm Reduction Victoria

Health Officers Council of British Columbia

Interagency Coalition on AIDS and Development

Keeping the Door Open Society

Méta d'Âme

Pivot Legal Society

Réseau d'aide pour personnes utilisants de opioïds au Quebec (RAPDOQ)

Streetworks, Edmonton

Toronto Drug Users Union

TRIP! Project

Urban Health Research Initiative, British Columbia Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Vancouver Area Network of Drug Users (VANDU)

VANDU Empowerment Consultants

Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society

Youth R.I.S.E.

- 30 -

The Global Commission on Drug Policy exists to bring to the international level an informed, science-based discussion about humane and effective ways to reduce the harm caused by drugs to people and societies.  Current membership comprises  Fernando Henrique Cardoso, César Gaviria, Ernesto Zedillo and Ruth Dreifuss, the former Presidents of Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Switzerland respectively; Prime Minister of Greece George Papandreou; former Secretary General of the United Nations Kofi Annan; renowned entrepreneur and advocate Richard Branson; former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz; former Chairman of the United States Federal Reserve and of the Economic Recovery Board Paul Volcker; and other world leaders.  Further information about the Commission can be found at http://www.globalcommissionondrugs.org/.

 

Contact:

Janet Butler-McPhee, Director of Communications, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Telephone: +1 416 595-1666 ext. 228, jbutler@aidslaw.ca

 

Michaela Montaner, Communications Facilitator, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Telephone: +1.604.649.8613, mmontaner@cfenet.ubc.ca

Imagine: Young Women Who Use Drugs in Lebanon

 Imagine, for a moment, that you are a young woman. Imagine then, that because of your gender and because of your age, your voice is always muted, and your decisions are not your own to make. Imagine that you are raped. Imagine the police confronting the person who assaulted you, asking them if they had sex with you with the intent of marrying you. Imagine, that if they answer “yes” to this question, then it would not be considered rape. Imagine that if you consumed drugs and were sent to jail as a result, you would be considered a prostitute. Yet the man who raped you would not be considered a rapist. For many Lebanese women, theyneed not imagine. This is the reality that they are confronted with.

 

On Tuesday Youth RISE membershad a panel conference with Adel Mashmouchi, the police general in charge of Lebanon's Office of Crimes and Drugs. In Lebanon, like in most place in the world, drugs and crime are always linked within policy. In these policies, there is no mention of drugs without mentionof crime. In Lebanon, the law dictates that if you are caught with drugs, evendrugs that are intended for your own use and your own use only, you have twooptions presented to you; 3 months to 3 years in jail, or, obliged to treatment even if you don’t need it  In Lebanon, most people do not differentiate between drug users, abusers and those are dependent on certain drugs. This law does not specify the amount of drugs thatcan lead you to incarceration, nor the maximum amount of time that you may berequired to be in rehab. It is well known among the people that there is wide spread violence through the form of torture (like for example, tying you and whipping you) within the prisons of Lebanon. A young lady who attend school near the institution said to me, “we can hear them yell”. When confronted with this, Adel Mashcmouchi entirely denied that there was any violence in the prisons. Lara, who was on the panel, had been slapped in the face twice by Mr. Mashmouchi five years ago when she asked to leave rehab andwas then sent to jail. Again, when confronted with this, he denied being ableto recall having slapped her twice, which comes as no surprise. When one inengages in continuous and normalized violence, there is a little reason to remember such habitual incidents. 

 

Officials physically abuse individuals, and out of the 31 women who were interviewed by Youth RISE, themajority of them reported fearing sexual assault while incarcerated. It is common for women to be asked to perform oral sex with the promise of being released. Even if the sexual favour is performed, they never do get to leave as a result. When I think of such things, I ask myself how could it be possiblethat the use of drugs could lead to a systematic removal of your dignity. Yesterday, in a Lebanese jail by the name of Roumieh, two inmates were killed by security when a protest broke out for the demand of better conditions within the jail.

 

When women leave jail, theyare disproportionately stigmatized by their communities which renders it difficult for them to find housing or employment. Even though many of them are incarcerated because of drug use, they are considered sex workers. Many women are psychologically traumatized for years after they leave jail and rehab facilities from the sexual, physically and verbal abuse that they weresubjected to. I was told, “some of them report crying everyday for a year afterthey are released, thinking of the things that happened to them”. 

 

After 2006 Israel-Hezbollah War, the number of NGO's in Lebanon dramatically increased in number and continues to grow today. Why haven't they intervened in this massive violationof the rights of these women? Lucie , who has a masters in public health, explained to me “NGO's in Lebanon are a business. You see them with their iPhones, their Blackberries and driving in their expensive cars. They are disconnected from the need of the Lebanese people”. What I personally believe might be the problem is with some NGO's working abroad is that they chose to function as apolitical units, and as such, depoliticize the issues. They are accountable not to the people which they function to serve, but to their donors. “They workon short term non-sustainable projects,” says Sarah “they use big words in their reports but we see no change”. You cannot produce change in issues thatare directly linked to politics without working with the government and to believe that you can do so is to not be in touch with the complexities and tools needed for reform. This is not to discredit all NGO's, as some who work withyouth have done incredible work in this community, such as Skoun. These are the models to learn from and replicate whenever possible. 

 

When the panel conference came to an end, Mr. Mashmouchi left the stage furiously. Moments later he approached the Lebanese youth who had confrontedhim and asked them how they could speak in a such way of their own country infront of foreigners. When recounting what had happened, Sarah said to me, “of course we will tell them, we want the world to know. So that they might help us.”

 

After the international Harm Reduction Conference that took place in Lebanon in April 2011, the Youth RISE International Working Group in Lebanon felt the need to step forward and form a team in order to start an organization on the national level. This would allowthem to take action on drug policy issues locally, as well as educate them on Harm Reduction. Youth from Lebanon will be traveling to Toronto to train with TRIP! Skoun will be collaborating in building capacity for youth harm reduction locally in Beirut. Through international collaborations we can make a difference in raising awareness and building solidarity globally.

 

Dear TRIP! Community

I wanted to a moment to thank you for your very generous contributions towards my participation at the 2011 International Harm Reduction Conference in Beirut at the beginning of the month. It was a truly amazing and unique experience that allowed me to meet so many people from around the world who work in the same field and share the common goals of more sensible drug policy and more comprehensive harm reduction programs. 

The pre-conference that I attended was hosted by Youth R.I.S.E and took place in Jounieh, Lebanon. Youth R.I.S.E is a youth-led international network which aims to empower young people who are affected by drug use and policy to effectively work at systemic policy change to ensure that young people are included in harm reduction strategies as well as within the drug policy debate. Participating in the pre-conference was an inspiring experience. I think that it's important for youth to have a separate environment where they can speak about their challenges and strategize in a safe space. Together, we trained each other on the issues that were particular to the diverse communities we work in. After two days of capacity building, we were given the opportunity to identify the core issues we wanted to address at IHRA to help form the plenary that our international coordinator would deliver to the audience at the opening session (she did a very good job!). These extremely engaging processes, I believe, can be re-created on a smaller scale in our communities here in Toronto. There is no doubt that youth do want to be involved, and it takes more people such as yourself to gives them that opportunity :)

As a group, we collaborated to create a zine  about our experiences at the pre-conference and about our experiences as young people at the conference.  I've attached it above and I hope you find the time to read it! In addition, I was able to co-present with Lisa Campbell Salazar on Youth Friendly Harm Reduction to delegates from around the world. During the workshop we made a list of drugs that were not covered or received minimal coverage at the conference, but that youth frequently use. This shows that there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of tailoring harm reduction information and services to a broad audience. 

Thank you so much again, this has been a very valuable experience for me and one that I certainly will not forget!

 

Best,

 

Yamina-Sara Chekroun

For more information about Youth R.I.S.E please visit http://www.youthrise.org/.

 

p.s. more blog posts to come!!! 

TRIP! Highschool Workshops


So as the school year comes to an end, we here at TRIP! need to squeeze in a few more workshops in Toronto high schools.  TRIP! surveys have shown that youth are least likely to go to teachers or guidance counselors for information and most likely to go to TRIP! or friends. We believe that having a reliable and unbiased source of information to youth is extremely important when it comes to safer sex and drug use.


What our workshops include: 2 TRIP! workers educating students on harm reduction and staying safe. We explain who we are and what we do and move on to our beliefs here at TRIP! i.e., "providing peer based unbiased info", being a "non judgmental environment" and the like. We then go into talking about various substance groups, the importance of harm reduction and the stigma that can be found around many substances and routes of administration. We can also go into detail and answer questions or concerns students often have, and provide honest answers.

If you know of a school or other organization that you think would like to have us/ would benefit from one of our workshops drop us a line , we'd love your suggestions! 

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